Retrenchments at George Patterson Y&R Sydney

Michael Stanford.jpgCB hears from a George Patts Sydney source that the agency has just retrenched around 30 people, including creative director Michael Stanford (left) and several creatives. Stanford was appointed CD in October 2006, hired from Publicis Mojo Sydney where he was group head, an appointment that was a surprise at the time, with many ad watchers expecting a very big name appointment to match the calibre of James McGrath, then ECD at Patts Y&R Melbourne. Prior to Mojo, Stanford was CD at McCann Erickson Sydney.

The shakeup appears to be part of an effort to lift the creative profile of the Sydney agency (to match GPY&R Melbourne) under the new leadership of CEO Nigel Marsh, who reports directly to Y&R worldwide CEO, Hamish MacLennan. New Y&R Worldwide creative director Tony Granger will be visiting Australia in the near future.


Anonymous said:

Thirty people! Which creatives have been axed?

Anonymous said:

It was those Telstra NextG Ads, wasn't it?

Anonymous said:

Cutting news.

Anonymous said:

Why set the bar at Melbourne?

Anonymous said:

12:12 have some class, you spot.

Anonymous said:

Oh well, keeping costs paper thin.

Anonymous said:

the new guard

Anonymous said:

It's ugly stuff. I've been there twice. The thing that really irks me is you look back in 12 months and see that the place hasn't progressed one iota from where it was creatively. The truth is that when you work for these big companies you have to take the good with the bad. The good is big clients and decent wages. The bad is that they are owned by money-hungry shareholders.

Anonymous said:

Decent wages? Who have you been blowing?

Anonymous said:

FYI 1:09PM

Often a handjob is more than enough.

Unless you're lacking good technique.

Anonymous said:

I hope other agencies are paying attention - because this is what happens when account management and planning are allowed to run your creative department.

Anonymous said:

I hear JWC is hiring.

Anonymous said:

What's happening to the creatives in the interactive dept? Are they getting the arse?

Anonymous said:

Remember that rugby spot they did a couple of years back? Players playing footy in the street?

BLATANT RIP OFF OF THE NIKE SPOT FOR THE 2003 RUGBY WORLD CUP!!!!! Shame, shame, shame on you Patts Sydney.

Another big agency drunk on smugness derived from being in Sydney and having big brands.

Anonymous said:

Nigel Marsh was sacked and wrote a book called "Fat, Forty & Fired"
He should write a book called "Start with some downsizing"

Anonymous said:

Mighty gums shed dead skin all the time - get over it.

Anonymous said:

2:07, do you feel better now; I mean that little smidgeon of bile must have been playing havoc with your health.

Anonymous said:

I live overseas and out of the loop.

Did Tim Arrowsmith and Matt McGrath survive?

Would appreciate some news on this

Anonymous said:

I heard they've all come down to Melbourne to visit the luck factory.

Anonymous said:

Couldn't be a bigger contrast in advertising.

One office in Melb winning constant gold and sitting on top of the pile, the other a basket case on the absolute bottom.

How do the two Patts offices co-exist???

Anonymous said:

Tim and Matt are ok.

Anonymous said:

2:33PM thinks originality is only vaguely important in advertising.

They'd love you at Patts.

Anonymous said:

2:51. This is not a time for making jokes. (but between you and me that was gold)

Anonymous said:

If they are so overstaffed why are there still freelancers there?

Jonny Browne said:

This is for you,11.55, 12.12, 2.07 and 2.31 (I'd use your names but you don't have the bollocks to put your names to the craven drivel you deposit on this blog).

I worked with Mike Stanford for five years and he's one of the most decent blokes I've met. He has a wife and family to support and now has no job. There are also 23 of his colleagues who went to work this morning with varying degrees of self-worth and salary. They will all arrive home without either.

So before you indulge your petty schadenfreude (look it up cretin) spare a thought for them. They are like most of us. Just trying to earn some bucks, have some laughs and do good work in spite of the triple headed demon; suits, clients and research.

Alternatively you could go back to squeezing your zits while working on that out of date brief in whatever nursery, launchpad, creche or sandbox you infest.


Anonymous said:

One could pretty well punch out a client and he'd be ok. One call to unkie Hamish and everything's all better.

And the other? He's been there for so long it'd break the bank to retrench him.

Enjoy the job Nigel.

Anonymous said:

3:37 Maybe they're replacing them.

Anonymous said:


I wholeheartedly agree. It's another classic patts cull.

Unfortunately the characters completely responsible for the downfall of Patts Sydney over the years are still there.

And they're completely fucking untouchable.

Anonymous said:

Nigel, there's a pattern forming here. I heard the same happened at Burnetts.

Anonymous said:

Onya Jonny.

Nick Munt said:

Well said, Jonny.

Anonymous said:

Wow. Some really ridiculous things being said on here. Firstly, 30 people woke this morning, knowing they had a job to do, a couple of hours later they found out they no longer do. Maybe we can leave the pathetic sexual innuendo out of it? Keep to writing Ralph ads people. This has nothing to do with that grossly misused word ‘creative’. It’s about making profit. Profit first, people second. News flash: It’s always been like that in the big agencies, and it always will. They can shout to the rooftops how they want more ‘creative work’. How many times do we have to sit through new management spouting off the same rubbish again and again?! Yet we fall for it. Why? You think we would’ve caught on by now. This is not a commentary on Australian advertising, but look around you people, NOTHING this country makes is motivated by creative thoughts. Sure, maybe the occasionally one accidentally gets through, but very rarely. GPY&R is not going to change, especially when socially inept you know who is still hanging round. And let’s be honest, while no one deserves to be thrown on the street this way, if sacking people depended on the creative work being made, none of us would have a job. And as for Melbourne Y&R doing better work, maybe there’s something in the water down there, and too much zinc up here, because yes, it’s damn obvious of the divide in the quality of work. But that’s Melbourne. Ideas down there can be complemented with profit.

Watto said:

Jonny's right about those snide comments. Most getting the arse these days are the victims of distant economic mismanagement, or local incompetence. Thinking a step beyond the cheap shot would've also told you that 30 extra people are now in the running for your job. Ha ha...

Anonymous said:

2:31 here.

I resent the craven drivel remark. I simply pointed out ( smugly, I agree ) that large multi-nationals regularly remove deadwood - and Jonny, if you work at Patts, you'd know there's enough dead wood there to burn until the next millennium.

Like you i feel sorry for Mike, he's a very decent human being, but his job was a poisoned chalice from day one - and he's smart enough to know it.

The rest probably deserved it, will learn their big agency lesson and move on to better things.

If they're any good this is what usually happens.

Anon - for good reason.

Anonymous said:


Anonymous said:

As an ex-Y&Rer myself, both the Melbourne and Sydney offices, the current situation has always existed - GPY&R Melbourne is creative; GPY&R Sydney is very client friendly. I was warned before my move up that they were completely different beasts and it couldn't have been more true. I struggle to believe that massive staff cuts will change this, as this culture comes from the very top. Furthermore, because of these differing cultures, each office has attracted a certain type of client.

4:10 - While I agree with your sentiments, it's a bit rich to then have a dig at "suits", when quite a few of them also were cut. Remember, one of the key players in all of this was the CD of Y&R Sydney for years.

Tommy Smith said:

Jonny Browne.
Is this your first time on a blog?
Perhaps we shoud start an aid programe and help those Admen in need.
No really what happeneds to Admen that get retrenched? Can we all lend a hand to support them? No Fuck No thats the industry we live in.
If it was me I'd be happily taking my payout for a week of at the pub and letting the wife know on the weekend. Then I'd be siting back and deciding (after a nice month off and paying a sizeable chunk off the morgage) whether or not this industry is for me. Then slipping back into some agency on the same salary again if not better.
Why feel sympathic it happens to all of us and if it hasn't yet... it will one day.
Anyway back to counting the days.

Anonymous said:

Those who have been let go today don’t know it yet, but they are the lucky ones… at least they got paid to get out of hell.
Whether you ‘deserved’ it or not, you are onto better things….anything will be better than working in that cesspit.
Nobody expects patts Sydney to do well – ever. Why? Karma! Can anyone tell me how many times management there have culled that agency with retrenchments in the past 6 years or so? As if anybody in their right mind would ever take a job there and wait patiently for the same thing to happen to them 12 months down the track.
Someone who has never worked at patts but knows people who do.

Jonny Browne said:


If I misread the intent of your comment and caused you offence I most humbly apologise.

However, I do take issue with two of your subsequent comments.

Firstly, if you look closely you'll find that not all the deadwood tends to burn in forest fires and a few promising sapplings sometimes get burnt as well.

Secondly, whatever your "for good reason" is; I believe that just as nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, so anonymity is surely the last refuge of the coward (no offence).



Jonny Browne said:

To 5.27 and Tommy Smith,

Firstly 5.27, There are account service/management people and then there are 'suits'. I was using 'suits' in it's perjorative not general sense.

Tommy, No it's not my first time on a blog and yes this is the industry we work in and yes I have been fired before and yes I probably will be again. None of which means I have to rejoice in the misfortune of others to whom it happens or use the opportunity to score cheap and tawdry points.

By the way, I couldn't help but notice you employed the future imperfect tense when regaling us with how you'd deal with the same thing happening to you. I'd love to chat if you're ever forced to use the past perfect tense.

Isn't this fun, anyway back to counting the days for me as well I suppose.



Anonymous said:

Jonny or 4:10, which ever you'd prefer. Some of us suits also want to earn some bucks, have some laughs and do great work. Ideas are easier to believe in and sell, when they're good.

Anonymous said:

That's the pot calling the kettle black Jonny. That isn't even your REAL name.

2:31 said:

Uh Huh.
And Jonny Browne is your real name.

Anonymous said:

Truth is, it will be a relief for those guys to get out of there.
A pressure cooker [Read, politics] is one thing, but when the pressure cooker smells of shit the whole time it tends to become unbearable, let alone unenjoyable.

More out there, have a surf, back on the pony.

Anonymous said:

jonny - agree with you about the saplings, ( and with hindsight ) i should have added a similar remark to my original post. Some promising talent was shafted. They deserved a better exit.

Secondly, everyone on this blog knows the reason why Patts Sydney is the place we love to hate and how influential it is in the industry.

And for that reason, my identity must remain unknown. Call me....


Anonymous said:

Deary Me.

You lot might want to think about buying a book about running a successful business before you open your mouths and demonstrate such narcissistic naivety. Nigel knows what he's doing and so does Hamish.

You can't expect to do the same thing and get a different result. You should all know that.

It's simple. You remove the ineffective/poisonous elements, install an influential CEO who inspires with refreshing leadership, and raise the standard of people you employ.

Nigel will succeed. It won't be long before you're all applying for jobs there. I doubt many of you will get past the first interview given what you've said.

Anonymous said:

Yes, I aka 2:07pm, am such an asshole for pointing out that Patts, which beats its chest in various ways, blatantly and shamelessly ripped off a great ad.

Just don't know how I'm going to live with myself.

I mean if an ad agency, which charges a massive retainer to a client to help pay for their harbour views and other overheads, wants to copy an ad then we should all just look the other way shouldn't we. Nothing wrong with it.

Anonymous said:

I'd like to know who you are 7:13.

Anonymous said:

I am tired of this arrogant attitude certain copywriters have in terms of their English skills.

Yes, a copywriter needs a basic facility with the English language.

But being able to prattle off arcane grammatical terms is irrelevant.

Our job is to sell shit using the language the great mass of today's text-messaging punters understand.

If you want to show off about your English, become an English teacher or some left-wing literary critic or something.

It doesn't cement you a some uber-copywriter.

Anonymous said:

For those of you that don't think there is a shot of Y&R Sydney becoming a creative force, look at the players involved. Nigel Marsh. Tony Granger. Stuff is going to happen. I promise you.

For those of you that don't think creativity is at the heart of our business or, when applied properly, the biggest driver of sales over the long term for a brand, you're in a bit of a spot. Bernbach believed it and lived it. What about Apple? Why the change in mindset at P&G, the world's biggest marketer? It's when creativity forgets the brand that it becomes self indulgent, but trust me, without it advertising would just be done in house and this blog wouldn't exist.

Lastly, I agree with Johnny that we should show a little respect for all the people who just lost their jobs. For some it will be a blessing but for some a nightmare. Good luck everyone.

Anonymous said:

Dude, 7:13...

It's ok man. I've been there. I've had a sucessful award winning campaign credited to someone else.

In fact, I think most of us have been there.

But chill out, no one gives a fuck.

Anonymous said:

So moving on, who's the new CD going to be then?

Anonymous said:

Ah, 2.31 and 6.44 fictitious as he may sound, Jonny Browne is real!



Anonymous said:

7.13 they're not the first and you most certainly won't be the last to spit out something that has been done before!
But I do understand it is advertising nature to put the sights on an agency at a time like this....guess that's why they are going through the pain all at once then...I think its pretty the time the agency has turned things around you won't even notice because you'll be bagging someone at some other agency in some other city for stealing some other idea from someone on....go Nige!

Steve Dodds said:


Nicely (and grammatically) put.

But you face Canutish obstacles if you expect that any argument employing logic, reason or indeed simple decency will suffice to hold back the anonymous bile that has become this blog's stock in trade.


Anonymous said:

As someone who worked for the once-great Patts in years gone by, I am feeling both nostalgic and philosophical...I remember a time long ago when creativity was applauded, but I can almost remember to the day when it changed.

There was a changing of the guard... and the pursuit of money, politics and a complete lack of passion at the top became the agency's defining truths. Sadly, that has remained for many years at the expense of creativity, staff morale, client loyalty, client growth and awards. I find it so sad.

It really is in its DNA now and I don't know that even a knuckle-bleeding scrubbing of the floors and staff clean-out can erase those things or turn the ship around.

On one hand, I applaud the new regime for trying... for trying to cut out the mediocrity or 'apathy' that ironically, the bigger regime demanded of them.

And that's the part where I turn philisophical. The wall of conservatism at the top demanded the sometimes ineffective and safe work that those poor people who have now been shafted did. It's like they were paid to think safely for years, and after their spirits had been broken for the 10,000th time, they gave into the system. And now, they're being punished.

I'm sure there are some people in today's 'cull' who have been hiding and cruising, and they have finally been found out. But I'm sure there are others who have been left shellshocked with a bitter taste in their mouth.

It is bitter. The way GPY&R has been run into the ground is bad. The way the staff scapegoats have been callously culled is bad. It's all bad. And nasty.

It makes me feel even more disturbed about being in this industry than I usually do. I know it's the 'circle of life' in our industry and I do hope that Patts Y&R rises again... but first, I hope all those good people find good jobs to feed themselves.

Good luck to you people.

Anonymous said:

As someone who was sliced today, I'd like to thank the warm-blooded writers above. Jonny you're right: we were just trying to earn a decent living. Life goes on but this industry is becoming far too liberal with the cutting knives.

Anonymous said:

that's how agencies roll. easy come, easy go.

I've been retrenched a few times. generally it turns out good. With a bit of luck, most of those people who got axed at patts will land on their feet.

it's just a bummer it had to happen in winter. they could have been decent about it and waited to fired everyone at the beginning of summer!

Anonymous said:

Doddsy, I don't blame someone from Whybin's creative department having a gripe with the blog, after the bollocking those last two Whybin spots got the other week. Deservedly I admit. You, Gaz and Matt have got to sort out the young ones in your creative department mate. I still haven't seen the SMH 'Oliver Laric' version on air since the blog exposed its origins - by the way, how did the client react after finding that out?!!

Anonymous said:


surf is so much better in winter. To hell with summer.

And Jonny is soooo left winged. It's his roots. Go the tiges.

fuggin lej.

I bought an apartment on the beach after getting the Jonny Brass.


Anonymous said:


Again, nicely put.

I worked there too. It was filled with some great suits, some hardworking creatives and even a couple of half-decent clients.

I remember spending about a year reading about our imminent demise in the trade press. One of the journo's used to sharpen the knife every week or so in his column.

But still a lot of us hung in, we had good mates there.

And then Patts was bought out by Y&R.

I think it was about a week before the 'great cull' started.

It wasn't released at the time, but the amount of people they shafted got into high double figures. Maybe more.

Then a new culture was put in place.

One of smiling, nodding heads in meetings. Executive laughs and constant animatics.

I guess my point has already been made above, but yesterday's news brought back just how unpleasant and nasty the regime was.

You see, claiming that the 'problem' is with the staff is classic naive Y&R.

And thirty staff gone means utterly nothing when the culture drips down from the very top.

And, unfortunately for Nigel, the very top is OS., and his apprentice is deeply entrenched in Sydney.

I feel for all thirty. Trust me, you've left a very dark tunnel and now you can deal with people who, fuck me, like ads.

Anonymous said:

Well said M.E.

Anonymous said:

Retrenchments/downsizing/restructuring whatever ... they happen every month (not usually in those large numbers). It's shitty but they happen (for me it's been twice). Both times they've been a blessing in disguise.

Those who doubt an agency can't be turned around within the so-called Evil Empire of Y&R need to look north at GPYR Brisbane. Sure it's not winning at Cannes, nor really dominating at the local Awards (yet) but the management, strategic planning and creative is a vast improvement on the waste of space Patts Brisbane used to be. It all comes down to putting the right people in charge. And no, I don't work there.

Jonny Browne said:

Hello 8.41,

I'm not sure where the "arrogance" and "showing off" stuff came from but I wasn't "rattling off arcane grammatical terms" superfluously. I was highlighting the difference between real and hypothetical. I.E. the difference between future tense, "what i would do if I was fired" and past or present tense, "what I will do now I have been fired".

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments regarding how we write ads. With the rise of 'generation why' where vocabulary, analytical thought and attention spans have shrunk to the point where two sentences is considered long copy, we should write using language the punters can easilly digest.

However, call me old fashioned but shouldn't we copywriters enjoy using the subtleties of our language when we have the opportunity outside of creating ads?

Anyhow, it's been interesting. Back to writing in words of three syllables or less for me I fear.



Anonymous said:

As George Orwell pointed out, 8.41, when you diminish the language you diminish people’s ability to think. You seem to be proof of that.

As for the Patts 'clean out', Christ, this must be about the tenth since the mid 90s. How much dead wood can one agency have? But let’s be honest. It’s not about dead wood, it’s about new management being seen to be 'doing something'. That’s why they got hired, so they have to show the people who hired them that they’re doing their job. The fact that they couldn’t possibly have worked out who was capable and who wasn’t in such a short time is neither here nor there; it was all about numbers, not people.

However, all this talk of Y&R being to blame is also crap. Patts fell in a heap years ago, after one particular generation of management decided they were running a private profit centre, not an agency. If I recall, some of the previous culls (in Melbourne particularly) resulted in few of big name hirings, a handful of acclaimed ads, and a massive decline in billings. Not the kind of math they’ll be too keen on at head office.

Let’s see where this latest act of management by mayhem leads.

Anonymous said:

When I started to force my way into this industry just a few short years ago, a good suit mate of mine told me "you haven't made it in advertising until you've been retrenched".

Seven months into it, I apparently made it. And whilst it was tough for a few months, it was the best thing that happened to me.

Hope it works out the same way for the guys at Patts, it's not a nice feeling.

Anonymous said:

10:13AM / Jonny,

You dropped a comma. Can you spot it?

Anonymous said:

8:50, I don't think it's the young ones in whybins creative department that need sorting out.

Anonymous said:

whos george orwel

Anonymous said:

Here's some advice to GPYR's new management.

If you want to make a bold statement to the marketplace and genuinely set yourself up for future success, sack a client.

Go on.

Tell everyone the kind of agency you want to be and the clients that are not right to accompany you on that journey.

Maybe it's a mediocre client or two who is fucking your business far more than some staff members.

Anonymous said:

After Fat, Forty & Fired, Nigel Marsh's next book looks likely to be: Fit, Fifty and Firing.

Anonymous said:

No doubt you're joking, 12.19.

But sadly, far too many copywriters these days have forgotten the basic rule: you learn to write well by reading great writers.

It seems most people in our industry today are happy to get by just reading award books.

Try a little literature, my friends. Where do you think half the ideas that appear in those award books (not to forget every second movie) came from?

Anonymous said:

12.24 you are an unrealistic wanker who is giving this business and this blog a bad name!
If you think for one second that firing clients is the answer to fixing agencies you're stupider than your post makes you look.
News fucking flash - If we don't have clients - we don't get fucking paid....simple.
Get the right people in the building, think about a clients' business, add fucking value and they come along for the ride...(they may even approve a good ad along the way) and if that means manage perception more than you manage reality - then do it.
Fuck me....

Anonymous said:

There's nothing wrong with firing clients. The Palace did it for years and they were consistently one of the best agencies in the world. (Then they were bought by Patts, which is another sad story of our industry...)

If a client isn't right for an agency, if there's not a good working relationship, if the client doesn't have the same creative instincts, well, like a marriage, sometimes it's best to go your separate ways. Does it matter who calls the divorce lawyer first? And in the end, there are always plenty more fish in the sea - if you've got the right bait, of course.

Anonymous said:

Seems a few people want gpyr's big harbour view clients then?

Anonymous said:

As sad as it is that so many people have lost their jobs, perhaps without doing so a lot more people would have. Lets face it - all agencies are here to earn a buck, and if they aren't doing so then everyone is out of a job.

Anonymous said:


Firstly, I don't know why you asked me to fuck you. I'm happily married and try to steer clear of ad people when it comes to my sex life. Having said that, maybe next time enclose a picture of yourself. You never know.

Anyway, have a look at other industries. Companies shed bits of their businesses all the time. Take a look at Toll Holdings this week. They decided that as a logistics company owning Virgin Blue wasn't a natural fit for them. So, they offloaded it. Toll knew what its strengths were, what the risks of moving beyond those strengths were and acted accordingly.

Not a perfect analogy but not irrelevant, either.

Now, I don't know the Patts business but I was merely making the point that sometimes the path to becoming a stronger business is to strategically refocus, and that may involve ditching clients who don't fit the agency's long-term vision.

The problem is that when you are part of a global network, it becomes impossible to take those bold steps because of quarterly reports to New York and so on. The alternative - that is much easier to implement - is to sack staff.

Fuck me, Gordon? No. Fuck you, Gordon.

Anonymous said:

On the subject of firing clients...

There was a time when Patts was so big it could accommodate all clients and all kinds of people. They recognised that different clients required different approaches.

The Palace had a certain style, very creative, but not suited to all clients. So it made sense for them to pick and choose. They were small and happy to stay that way, doing great work.

Patts, on the other hand, would build parts of the agency just to suit the clients. So you could have one part of the agency churning out stuff a lot of us would be embarrassed by, while another part could be winning Cannes Awards. (You might be surprised just how many big awards Patts won in the days - over 15 years ago - when they were called the Public Service of advertising.)

It meant Patts could satisfy a lot of different clients - and make a LOT of money.

It also meant that if a member of staff didn't fit in with one client, he or she could usually be moved onto another. If you didn't fit any Patts client, you probably wouldn't fit any client anywhere.

That all changed when Patts started hiring 'stars' who wanted to impose their own personalities and styles not just on the agency, but on the clients - and on all the work.

Fast forward a few years and Patts isn't called the Public Service any more. But it's not a very big agency any more, either - not profitable, not strong; just another agency.

Anonymous said:

Your analogy with Toll is so daft you wouldn't understand why. If you're suggesting firing clients to satisfy the creative department, well, you should be fucked off with the rest of them. As important as staff are to any business, clients come first. If you don't understand that (and I don't think ANYONE at Patts does, management included) you should join an insurance company or a bank in the call centre.

Anonymous said:


I can instantly tell that you've spent a significant amount of time in either a WPP owned company, SOM or one of the monoliths.

I've been part of the firing of at least two clients in my career..

One was basically a bully, and reduced my suits to tears on a fairly regular basis presumably because she was a recently divorced bitch.

The second wanted creative presentations every week - loving the power of us marching in with a pile of new work. He barely bought anything, and when he did he'd change so much the end result was a complete embarrassment.

News Fucking Flash, as you so eruditely write, if you like taking it up the bum constantly, stay where the money is.

Anonymous said:

4.51 agreed.

And 1.16 you just confirmed you are a wanker.

I can give you plenty of examples of multi national agencies sacking clients and nearly as many examples of privately owned agencies that never have and never would sack a client.

And by the way I said "fuck me - Gordon" not you. So you fuck off!

Anonymous said:

Fuck just when things are getting interesting it resorts to

"i know you are, you said you are but what am I?"

Anonymous said:


Calling something daft isn't an argument.

Some time ago I read a great book called 'The 80/20 Principle,' by Richard Koch. It explains that the overwhelming majority of your success comes from a minority of your efforts. You should read it. For an agency, the lesson is that the majority of success - profits, awards etc. - come from a minority of clients.

Moreover, while it is counter-intuitive, the majority of an agency's clients are in fact more trouble than they are worth - they consume resources and morale at a far greater rate than they produce them. It's true that the same could be said about an agency's staff, but that's an entirely separate debate.

So, yes, an agency exists to serve its clients, but not to its own detriment. That's dumb. As much as clients choose agencies, agencies should choose clients and if that means getting a bit mean and lean for a period, so be it.

Before you write back without an argument, visit this link:

You might find it interesting.

Anonymous said:

Sorry 5:44. Anyone who references wikipedia is a halfwit by definition. As a reasonably successful business owner for 15 years I can attest the 80/20 principle. The problem is knowing which 20% to focus changes. My point was that no agency can really be run successfully over the long term if it only seeks to satisfy the creative department.

Watto said:

Look, can we all just get back to slagging off Jonny B? I think we've passed the point of Pareto optimality. Here, I'll start it: Jonny supports Della Bosca!

Anonymous said:

So, 6:44, you agree with me but had to bag me anyway. Sorry about the Wikipedia reference. I was going to mail you my personal copy of the book but it was a little bit difficult given that I don't know who or where you are. I was making the point that constantly pandering to clients is not the way to grow a successful business either. Maybe we can get along after all. We should be held up as an example to the Israelis and Palestinians that peace is possible. If you would like to learn more about the current crisis in the Middle East, may I suggest this reference:

Anonymous said:

I read the 80/20 Principle.

Most of it was rubbish.

Anonymous said:

I’m going out on a limb.

The next CD of GPY&R, Sydney, will be a certain and very talented CD from within the nascent cummins/Nitro network.

He has single-handedly returned one of its offices to its rightful place at the forefront of creativity in this country. And he is an ardent devotee of the agency’s long-standing mantra of creativity with a conscience, which will be critical to the powers that be in Sydney and New York.

Remember that you read it here first and good luck, mate. You deserve it.

Anonymous said:

Wonder what the MD at McCanns thinks of Jonny Browne coming onto this blog and publicly refering to the suits there and their clients as "demons" (that must be good for morale) and then following it up with a long essay - will he put that down on his timesheet?

Wonder what their clients will think if they read this Blog.

Anonymous said:

Lay off Johnny Browne. Good Bloke.

Every other Sydney creative director over 40 is either a pom or a poof.

Anonymous said:

Whoever you are, 7:12PM, and I have my suspicions, you are totally and utterly full of shit. You're out on a limb and I can hear the distinct sound of cracking.

Anonymous said:


Fuck that. What about an Aussie ex-pat... someone, ooh, i dunno, who's done some good stuff.

Anonymous said:

Tony Granger is going to have a say who goes in there. Just watch. It won't be a local, who'll bring in a stack of baggage - it will someone O.S, perhaps an expat.
Patts Sydney needs to appoint a MAJOR global talent if the new management plans to pull the agency out of the mire it's in.

Anonymous said:

New CD? What about georgia and that other bloke from The Palace? They seem to do really good stuff on telcos/fmcg/retail - big stuff, not scambient. A female MD and CD? Now that'd be an interesting change for Patts...

Anonymous said:

8:34 – Or an up and comer that's desperate to prove themselves as well. Look at Jay and Andy.

The last thing Patts needs is a CD big on experience and shit on ideas. Australia has too many already.

Anonymous said:

Oh Jeez, hope they don't do a Saatchi and make GPY&R a temple to scam work... so, watch out "viral" and "public service/charity" categories, here we come..

Anonymous said:

the lone granger rides again

Anonymous said:

I'm a baby copywriter but 1:02pm is right, copywriters shouldn't ignore grammar or spelling just because some pimply faced 13 year old speaks in tongues. Like anything, you must know the rules to know how to break them.

I had an incredible mentor, whom sadly I've never met, who simple pointed me towards "Eats shoots and leaves" when I emailed him my hire me spiel. I learned more from that direction than I did the book. And because if it I landed a job.

Long live long copy! I got hired by a CD who told me I wrote too much.

Anonymous said:

Speaking of sacking clients, I know an agency who's major client [their cash cow] runs at a loss - for the agency.

I'm a creative, so I don't quite get why an agency would keep a client that costs them money as apposed to make them money.

Logic? Apart from keeping people in a job......

Anonymous said:

To understand the problem of GPY&R Sydney you have to look at the old Sydney George Patts style and culture. (only unique to the Sydney office by the way )

Take it back to the Alex Hammil leadership which was built on the client being absolutely right on all accounts. There was no real partnership, you did what the client wanted and you delivered it the next day at 9am. Irrelevant if you thought it was wrong. He would often come up with a big name celebrities that would be mandated and get everyone and the client to think it was a big idea. Olivia Newton John for Panasonic was one of many.

A good ad was a sold ad in his book.

If you ventured outside of these realms you did so at your own peril.

This was hugely successful for them and they attracted clients who wanted this kind of service where they are the boss and could easily bully the agency.

Almost all promotions were done within because they believed in this.

Then they ranout of people to promote so they looked outside.

These outsiders wouldn't put up with the GP bullshit of servicing the client and they either stayed on as long as they could to try and re educate the clients before they were fired or they saw the writing on the wall and got out before.

Since then there's been this strange schizo culture where they bring in CD's with great reputations expecting them to turn around the work with clients who still live in the past.

So instead of getting behind the Creative and the CD and re educating the client they have a mass firing and a cleanout every few years hoping this will change everything.

But guess what it won't change a thing until they either change clients or have smarter mangement who believe in the work and can re educate the clients thinking.

They'll go through the same cycle all over again this time. The conserative/service driven mangement will bring in a big name CD, who will be allowed to revamp the Creative department and then try to sell highly creative work to a conservative old fashioned client that is backed by the GPY&R mangement.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Anonymous said:

The best way to avoid having to sack an awful client is to not get involved with them in the first place.

You can track the decline of Patts - Sydney and Melbourne - to the day Patts Sydney took on Optus. They thought they were so clever, the people at the top - all that money - but what a nightmare it turned out to be.

First Patts Melbourne had to resign a big lump of Telstra - including Yellow Pages - just when they were doing brilliant work for them. It was a mortal wound.

Worse, Optus turned out to be the client from hell - and never spent half what had been expected. Just about anyone who worked on it was burnt out - or just burnt - within six months. The account shattered morale around the place; taking it on was a management disaster of the highest order. But it didn't stop the bright boys at the top doing it again a year or two later, taking on the National Bank in Melbourne, which meant Sydney had to resign St.George and AMP.

The betrayal of these long term and loyal clients for the hope of short term big money (which never appeared) undermined Patts reputation for honesty and solidity with clients. And since they never had a big creative reputation, there wasn't much left.

In short, Australia's great brand building agency actually destroyed its own brand.

The result? 90% of the people in this blog wouldn't even know what I'm talking about, because the great Patts brand is so long dead, it's a fossil.

Anonymous said:

Granger Shmanger. He'll have a say, yes, But knowing Nigel ('cos I worked for him), he'll try and bring in a mate. It's his way. Or the highway.

Anonymous said:

Every anonymous cunt on this blog is a cunt. Inluding myself.

Anonymous said:

9.07: Daz, is dat choo?

Anonymous said:

I remember when Patts hired Mark Collis as CD. That was hilarious. That experiment in trying to 're-educate' the clients and change the culture resulted in him 'mutually deciding to leave' less than 12months later. And that was only 5 or so years ago.

I heard a rumour that Patts actually approached Nobby (still in the US under Tony Granger at Bozell at the time) for the Patts CD gig. That would've been interesting...

Anonymous said:

Seems there's a lot of CD spots for the taking. 7.12 - you got any predictions for the empty chairs at JWT?

Anonymous said:

CDs from the Palace – Patts wants to increase it's creative reputation not turn it in to mediocre chicken shit.

I think there are some brilliant comments on here – no point changing the creative department unless you change the suits, otherwise it will just be one big internal shitfight.

I also think Patts management is wised up to the fact good creative means big dollars. Who were the two shortlisted on Australia's biggest $180 million dollar account?

Campaign Brief agency of the year and previous Campaign Brief agency of the year 3 years in a row. No CEO can argue with those stats.

Bring in a fucking good CD then sack the suits that can't teach clients what good work is and you have a winner. The framework's already there.

Anonymous said:

Strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride, bloggers. Some true heavyweights have indeed weighed into this debate. They're people who know what they're talking about from bitter, and I mean bitter experience.

Good to hear you firing on all 8, .........

Anonymous said:

How many times do we have to have people suggesting that the solution to an agency's problems is to bring in a big-hitting CD?

This Messiah syndrome always, always, always flops. Always has, always will. There are no Messiahs.

How many times have we seen it in the last few years? Can anyone name a single agency that suddenly turned around because of a new CD?

And if anyone is crazy enough to suggest James McGrath did it at Patts, remember that their billings plummetted under his watch - clearly the clients weren't as impressed as some of the people on this blog.

Anonymous said:

Re the Messiah Syndrome.

Agree fully.

Not only is it dumb, it puts unbelievable pressure on the "Messiah".

Especially when the people who hired him or her just sit back and think their job is done - and then start back-biting when the world doesn't change overnight.

There was a great comic strip years ago called Pogo. I remember one particular line, the culmination of the usual cartoon capers, when one character looks at another and says: I have seen the enemy, and he is us.

Just about sums up this industry.

Anonymous said:

It's astounding that creative people think only creative people impact an agency. Newsflash - everyone is important. Perhaps if people could try working together as a team great work and happy clients would evolve.

Anonymous said:


Not one, two. Jay and Andy.

Anonymous said:

Correct, 12.31.

And we should include clients in that mix.

It's their money, after all. And they usually know more about their product and market than we do, so we actually need to work with them if we want to create good work. Also, when creatives spend a bit of real time with clients, they suddenly discover that clients aren't all idiots. Gosh, some are even human.

And when you include the client in the development - not literally across the desk from you, but taking them with you every step of the way - it's easier for them to see where you're coming from . And to buy what you're selling.

One example: the great Yellow Pages campaign from Patts Melbourne (Gogo mobile and so on) would never have been made if the creatives hadn't built up such a good relationship with the client that the client had the confidence to overrule the very negative research results.

Anonymous said:

Can someone tell me how an agency can get away with redundancies like this?Under employment law doesn't there have to be a written warning etc etc. How can this stand up legally?

Anonymous said:

1:43, I think that's because in the ad business we're all legal simpletons and hopeless optimists. It's an unfortunate combination. So we go into a new job thinking everything will be just great, after all, our new boss told us they were 'turning the agency around' and lucky you, you're going to be a part of the renaissance.

And then when it goes rotten and you're fired, few people want to get a reputation for being litigious in relation to any unfair dismissal because when word gets around, that'll make you unemployable.

It's a stupid, stupid industry.

Anonymous said:

re: employment law in the workplace.

A while ago I was given a horrible reference from a bitter cd, after he'd told my previous recruiter I was the best hire he'd ever made.

This cost me thousands of dollars, not to count the illegal working hours/conditions I was placed under there. 'Reasonable overtime' does not constitute a 'normal' day in advertising.

But to take action would mean commercial suicide, so all you can do is hope and pray none of your mates end up working for that prick.

It sucks. My only advice is to you is to do better, not the same.

Anonymous said:

Dat me, 1246am. You working late or in UK?

Anonymous said:

Blah, blah blah

Anonymous said:

Eric Bristow

Anonymous said:

1:43 It's simple.

I had to retrench 20 people in one day from the creative department.

The first thing I said was how much money they were getting. After that they were relieved and could take any sort of bad news because they were ahead financially.

Money is the first thing you think about in situations like this. How will I pay the rent or mortgage etc etc.

So to answer your question this is what they do. Offer them a stack of cash (tax free for some reason which slips my mind) and they sign a legal document stating that they are happy with the arrangement which stops them from taking the agency to court and the deal's done.

Money talks in the sacking business.

There are some very good points made here about how an agency should deal with CD's, creatives and clients.

I hope agency heads and clients read this blog. Because if they do they'd have to be asking alot of questions about themselves and their agencies.

What makes me sick is how the management at the top just gets rid of the CD and creatives as if it's all their fault and hope that's going to change everything.

I also worked at Patts before the merger with Y&R. You'd be surprise how much great work eneded up on the creative department floor because management and the suits were too nervous to show the client. They ruled because they were backed by the management and had the right not to show the client. This effected the confidence of the CD's and the Creatives.

Having said that one of the CD's during this time was a frustrated CEO and spent all his time servicing the client the Patts way. Went over the bridge to Y&R and reemerged back again. Now he's been shafted for all his loyalty to the mangement. The next CD was only interested in approving his own work and alot of truly great work never got out of the department. He eventually got the flick and I believe is eating lots of sushi at the moment.

The real problem is not all with the creatives. There are appaulling briefs written by supposedly smart planners. (God I hate planners. Never met a good one and they all seem to be right after the fact and not before but that's another subject)There are alot of useless suits who are not capable of selling work,have no interest in building good relationships and thereby have zero cred with the clients.

But... the most important of all. This business is chocka full of Managers and CEO's who are more interested in keeping clients happy , giving them work they want instead of giving them work they need. These very same people will turn around and blame the creatives when the question of awards and creativity is raised by their management.

Unfortunetly creatives will always be the fluffy bunnies until they change the mentality of the management at the top. Personally I believe creatives running agencies have always succeeed the best. David Abbott. Bill Bernbach. Lionel Hunt. John Hunt. (not related) John Hegarty. Bogusky in Miami. There's not many In australia running big agencies. Certainly not the multi nationals.

Anyway sorry about all the ranting and raving but just had to get it off my chest because it's important to all of us..

Anonymous said:

1.43 it's a pretty simple thing to get around the laws as a hirer and firer.

Here's the drill:
Step 1: Call the firing a 'redundancy'. You tell the person the position is closed and there is no longer a spot for them.
Step 2: Hire a contractor to replace them. You can have a freelancer sitting in their chair the next day - the deal is you have to keep the full-time position closed for a full 3 months.
Step 3: 3 months go by, and hey presto! You can hire again. You can even hire the freelancer. All clean and legit.

How do I know? Happened that way to me last year. And two years before that. And hmmm...let me think, at Patts too I might recall.

Anonymous said:

Well, this Industry isn't unionised.

Which is why we get paid better.

(Journos, who are unionised, generally do much worse.)

It's also why we take the good with the bad.

Technically, you can only be retrenched if your position ceases to exist. (Like when the agency loses business.) Which means you can't be replaced the next day by the CD's wife's cousin.

Agencies generally bypass this nicety.

Anonymous said:

I'm no lawyer but I think companies are allowed to restructure by sacking staff. So long as they pay you out,

Anonymous said:

Unless I'm seriously mistaken, 3:58 has the rare privilege of the Quinella: he was fired as CD of both Patts and Y&R separately before they merged.

A lollypop to the first person to guess correctly.

Anonymous said:

Two people took y&r to court for unfair dismissal a while back. Both are doing quite well now I think. One of them did something to a suit we've all wanted to. Not sexual. And it didn't affect his career one bit.

But it's down to you. If you were a bit better or nicer, would you still be working there?

Anonymous said:

4:41, the person you're alluding to would never make the appalling spelling mistakes apparent in his 3:58 rant. But then, he is a relative newcomer to the computer and may have been in a real hurry to share his thoughts with us.

Anonymous said:

Good. Finally the talent realises that Agencies run by Fuckwits are breading grounds for depression. Come one creative community, branch out and Fuck all these turkeys. Just lose your ego's first please, it usually helps.

Anonymous said:

Without opening up that whole debate again, let me say how much I agree with 3.58 on planners.

What a waste of space!

Take the client's brief, translate it into jargon, and hey presto! A strategy.

The only good planner I've ever worked with was originally a creative. The rest have been logjams and client puppies.

Anonymous said:

Has the Management at McCanns had a chat with Johnny Browne yet?

If not they must be in agreement with his comment that the suits there are shite.

Anonymous said:

Have just left the ad agency business this week. If I was questioning my decision before I'm sure as hell not now. Thanks guys, your biterness makes it easy. What a dud world you all inhabit.

Anonymous said:

Most planners are Logjams and client puppies?

Spot on 6.05!

Hey, wish I'd thought of that.

Anonymous said:

I don't agree 6.05. I worked with many decent planners and they can make our lives a bit easier especially if they're experienced. One in particular used to save the work frequently when it was being chewed up by clients and suits.

Anonymous said:

12.46. No.

Anonymous said:

Let's hope they don't use the same headhunter as last time. What a disaster.

Anonymous said:


For a man who had to fire 20 people in one day, you sure write like an art director.

Money is never tax free; as a manager, you'd have known that, right?
Fired creatives or whoever get more money [ blow-softening money] with the tax already taken out, so then the cheque can be cashed. So, not tax-free, just more to compensate the taxed amount.

At least, this is what happened to me both times :-)

Anonymous said:


Went back and read the rant and noticed several bad spelling errors.

Bashed it out without putting it through the spell check.


Thanx for picking me up on it though.


I have an idea who you're talking about but it ain't me babe.

I was never a CD at Patts and you'll notice in my rant that I talked about the two different CD's I worked for while there.

If it is who I think it is I know for sure he resigned from the old Y&R and is still officially employed by Y&R Patts.

Enjoy the lollypop.

Anonymous said:


It's very obvious by your post that you're also an art director and you're also obviously not aware that there are alot of art directors who are creative directors. ( and spelling/grammar isn't exactly their great strength. )

On the tax free point I seem to remember this was the case back then. I can't remember the finer details but I'm pretty sure that all of the payout was either tax free or alot of it was less tax than normal. Tax rules change and they may well be different now.

Sorry to hear about your retrenchments mate but based on your smart arse attitude in your post I'm not surprised.

Anonymous said:

Both times, 12:08? You're clearly not trying hard enough.

Some people in this industry are legendary for getting fired, picking up the cheque and moving straight across to a rival agency and doing it again!

On one occasion a pair of joint CDs each pocketed a termination payment which was the equivalent of 6 months salary - twice.

My advice to all is to seek a minimum 3 month severence clause in your terms of employment.

Though I understand it's getting harder to do that now.

patts forever said:

Hi there - I used to work at Patts during the 80's and left in 95. I was an account director at Patts when we were number one. I started during the time of the great Geoff Cousins, continued on with Alex Hamill and left just after John Fawcett took over the reigns. They were all great leaders. I had a great time and the agency was fantastic. I could go on and on and on about what I believe went wrong but in essence the reason for our success was that we ran our own show and that was why we were successful. It was when we started trying to change the essence of our own brand and trying to mimick other agencies that it slowly started to fall apart. The people that were put together to run the joint were the best at what they did. The great Geoff Cousins put together a dynamic groups of account and creative people that he didn't necessarily put in place because he liked them but because he new they were the best at what they did. And that was Patts attitude - we were the best and the client was number one and the whole reason for our existence was to make ads that sold for our client. When they are successful then the agency is successful.

There are lots of things I could go on with but one thing that is just beyond my comprehension is why/how one particular person is still there? What exactly has he done for the agency???? How much would he be getting paid - perhaps just get rid of him then you only have to sack 10 people????? I've always wondered about him and how he has stayed under the radar. Has he got photos on someone high up in the empire??

Anonymous said:

The former management.

Wouldn't be the same management that sold off the 25% employee share holdings and took away the incentive for success at Patts? The one that also undermined Patts Melbourne by "cleaning out" Melbourne's home grown and successful management and sending down lame Sydney MDs so they could control the agency that was more profitable than Sydney Q - the start of the decline.

The one that sold the agency two more times. For the benefit of whom? Of course. Also the mastermind behind the Optus debacle - which cost Patts Melbourne Yellow Pages and a hunk of Telstra.

Sad, sad, sad stuff.

patts forever said:

RE: Former Management

What period are you talking about? I think the period you are talking about was way after 1996 - don't think this is the period I am talking about. The 'Optus Debacle' happened after 96 and I do know that as a person who was very close to me was very much involved (and no they did not contribute to the debacle!). Yes that was the time after this period that the Melbourne clean out happened and I so agree with you - the people they sent down were a joke You are correct - the management and the handling of George Patts went down hill from after 96/97 and I could really name a lot of management at the time who totally screwed and then squeezed as much money out of the agency and jsut left it dangling selling it on and on like an old whore instead of the grand lady it was.

Anonymous said:


You write an article as long as the fatal shore. Expect some shit.
Secondly, you start your rant with, "it's simple."

Take it easy. Bit of fun.

Anonymous said:

3.28. No, the damage was all done before 1996. Patts Sydney took on Optus in the early nineties and it was a disaster for both Melbourne (which had to resign Yellow Pages and it's share of Telstra) and Sydney (which ended up with the client from hell).

It was then they made the fateful decision to sell the 25% staff share holding to Saatchi & Saatchi after the take over. That staff shareholding, introduced by George Patterson himself, not only helped ensure that Patts' staff could share in the agency's (then) amazing ongoing profitability, it also contributed to staff stability. Staff turnover after that decision went through the roof. Selling off the shares made one generation of management rich at the expense of the agency's future stability and strength.

It's possible since you were in Sydney that you saw things very differently. Perhaps those heroes you mentioned actually took an interest in Sydney staff. Down in Melbourne we saw Australia's best run, most profitable - and, at times, surprisingly creative - agency ripped apart by Sydney management putting their finger in every Melbourne pie and treating Melbourne staff as irritants.

But why are we talking about Patts here? Patts is long dead. It's now just a name of convenience, nailed on beside an international brand to try and give it some local cred. Your heroes killed Patts long, long ago.


Anonymous said:

Patts forever.

He no longer works in the agency and the clause in his contract has him by the balls. he can't work for another agency or a client of the agency for 12 months.

Patts Boy said:

My guess is that most of the people who have contributed to this have never worked nor walked into Patts.

Patts was/is one of the great success stories in Australian advertising. A strong Patts was good for the industry. It never pretended to be the Palace although it owned it and for those ignorants out there, Patts has owned part of The Palaces for over 25 years. When The Palace did great work in the 80s, Patts had an ownership. Geoff Cousins was a great supporter of The Palace brand and wanted them to do great and different creative work that maybe Patts couldn't do because of the culture of its clients. When Geoff went it all changed.

Here was an agency that cared so much for its staff, that when it lost the massive Colgate account through international realignment, not one of the 30 people who relied on the Colgate business were retrenched.

Yes, Patts has lost its way. Yes, it has been raped by a succession of senior management that were only interested in lining their own pockets. This goes back at least a decade and they all know who they are. The recent mob are just the end of a long line. The tragedy of Patts Sydney was putting in and promoting dud MDs over the last several years who had no idea...about anything. At one point, they had three MDs at the very same time. This, compounded with the recent bunch, has seen Patts disappear in all but name.

When I worked there, it was about family and we had one principle - hand the company on in better shape than you received it. This might seem naive but it's a pretty good basis to doing good work, developing strong relationships and creating profits to share around. I never met a creative who turned down a bonus at Christmas.

I'm pleased to see Nigel there. He will bring leadership and energy but most importantly he will bring values and a heart to a place that seriously needs it.

Anonymous said:

But, Patts Boy, it was that generation of management that pushed through the sale of the 25% share of the agency owned by the staff.

You'd have to admit that was a huge blunder - and a nice little earner for one generation over the future of the agency (especially for management, who held the biggest lumps of shares).

They were also the ones who destroyed Patts Melbourne by sending the first of the Sydney lads down to destroy the place

Anonymous said:

Anyone who worked in Patts Melbourne in the late 80s and early 90s (and sorry to the bloggers who were still in nappies) knew the place was done for when Sydney started sending their management and creatives down to "help" with projects.

It's a simple fact: the Sydney people who came down were crap ad people. It was all show and no go, and the clients noticed. After a few years Sydney decided that just sending their SWAT teams down for the occasional raid wasn't enough; they put in place a succession of Sydney execs to run the place (taking orders directly from Sydney management of course.)

There were occasional good periods after that, as when Chris Dewey came in as CD, but Sydney didn't like him getting too much glory either and stifled that period as well. Even he gave up after a while, and who would blame him?

Anonymous said:

9:18 Patts boy.

A very good and honest evaluation on the history of Patts.

Anonymous said:

this is hilarious. I was one of the 30 and i didnt think this much about the redundancy. It happened, we moved on in a second and we got paid to move on.

It couldnt have come at a better time.

Anonymous said:

Patts in the 70s, when I first encountered it was (like the legendary Masius) a place run by gentlemen -- even in Sydney. And when I say gentlemen, I mean really old school courteous gentlemen that manned the mahogany rows that stretched endlessly. Everything ran like a Swiss watch. Then it was all change, with the old guard squeezed out. Back slapping inadequate hail-fellow-well-thee-met hires in management, etc. etc., and you know the rest.

Lois Lane said:

Who watches ads anyway, I always change the channel when they come on.
Get over yourselves and get a real job.

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